Unspinning Frank Griswold's Words to Cursillo Seminar
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Mon Nov 26 01:14:19 EST 2001
UNSPINNG FRANK GRISWOLD'S WORDS TO CURSILLO SEMINAR
By David W. Virtue
When Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold arrived at a Cursillo meeting at
Camp Allen in the Diocese of Texas, after a 30-day silent, Ignatian
retreat recently, he admitted to 250 participants in a National
Cursillo Seminar that he had not quite been prepared for the level of
enthusiasm and energy found there. Yet he soon realized that God was
reminding him that, "I am loving you through the members of my body."
Really. One wonders what exactly Griswold had in mind by these words.
The apostle Paul says we are members of His (Christ's) Body, the
Church, not Frank's body. This narcissistic revelation that it is Frank
Griswold's body through whom, presumably, he can love the assembled and
adoring is straight out mystic paganism at best and blasphemy at worst.
Is Griswold suggesting that the Trinity has imparted to him, through a
theological process of spiritual insemination, the ability to love all
those present without his really knowing in any agape sense who they
In his keynote address Griswold said that while on his silent retreat,
Christ implanted a question in his mind: "Why are your sins so much
more important to you than to me? I realized that there was a whole
embrace of compassion and grace and acceptance that I had kept at a
distance because of my own self-judgment, that I had been too busy
building a spirituality based on my own capacity of achievement."
This is too clever by half. Our sins are important because unless we
confess them we are in danger of imperiling our immortal souls and our
eternal destiny. Acknowledging ones sins is not "self-judgment" at all.
That's a fiction. It is what Scripture commands. The truth is, self
judgment gets dangerously close to self pity and then one confesses
nothing, because at that point we move easily to self justification,
which is precisely what Episcopal lesbigays do and whom Griswold
supports and upholds as a legitimate sexual lifestyle. They don't
repent because Frank Griswold doesn't think they need too.
Griswold reminded the participants, representing 47 dioceses that,
Christ's prayer on the eve of his crucifixion was that he had
"completed the work you have given me. It is finished, completed,
accomplished." And that work is described by Jesus as drawing all
things to God, said Griswold. This is Teilhard de Chardin mixed with
Schubert Ogden with a twist of Carl Jung.
The text Griswold cites here is drawn from John 17: 4. Jesus is praying:
"I have brought you [the Father] glory on earth by completing the work
you gave me to do." The text goes on to say, "And now Father glorify me
in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."
This is the prayer of Jesus for HIMSELF. It is addressed to His
heavenly Father. It is followed by Jesus praying for his DISCIPLES
(John 17:6 ff.) and then Jesus is finally praying for ALL believers.
It has nothing whatsoever to do with "drawing all things to God." That
is a mystic, universalistic interpretation that the text simply will
not bear. In fact the entire 17th chapter of John's gospel has nothing
to do with Christ drawing all things, meaning the world to God, that
Griswold would want us to believe. The 17th chapter of John has to do
exclusively with Jesus and his prayer for those whom the Father had
given him and solely for all believers.
In fact Jesus says the exact opposite of what Griswold says. In verse
9, Jesus says very explicitly, "I pray for them, I am NOT praying for
the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours." In
verse 16, Jesus reiterates this by praying, "They are not of the world,
even as I am not of it."
Griswold's attempt to spin and universalize biblical texts for his own
pluriform ends is disingenuous at best and bad theology at worst.
The term "it is finished" which Griswold cites, is not in this chapter
at all and has nothing to do with "drawing all things to God." This cry
of our Lord (John 19:26) announces the completed work of atonement at
the cross; that the expiation for our sins had been completed; that
full atonement had been made and that no longer would blood sacrifice
for sin be necessary. Christ had completed his work of salvation at the
cross it is not a statement of universally accepting all people that
Griswold would have you believe and bypassing the cross. He takes texts
out of their context and turns them into a pretext for his own mystical
Griswold again: "And that is where we come in--God's work, God's
project, God's mission is the reconciliation of all things to God's own
self in Christ through the agency of the Holy Spirit. What is the
mission of the church? We ask. To restore all people to unity with God
and each other in Christ. The mission is to participate in God's work,"
Griswold said. God's mission is not an abstraction, Griswold argued.
"God's mission is incarnate and made flesh in the lives of men and
women who through baptism become limbs of Christ's risen body and share
his work in drawing all things to himself."
First off, not all things will be reconciled to God. If that were the
case, Satan and his legion, Jack Spong and Richard Holloway would one
day be reconciled to Himself. But the biblical evidence leads us in no
such direction. In fact it leads to the exact opposite. Satan and all
his works will "in that day" be cast into outer darkness, and
destroyed. It is not a pleasant thought one must admit, but true
Griswold talks of incarnation and baptism, but what about salvation and
repentance? A whole step is missing here. Christ's incarnation does not
save us. Incarnation is the immediate self-revelation and self-
disclosure of God in human flesh. But it is in Christ's atoning death
and resurrection that we are justified and brought "nigh unto God." To
skip over the salvific plan of God is again bad theology and we cannot
let Griswold get away with this.
"This work takes many forms, expresses itself in many contexts, using
different vocabularies: Church growth, social justice, spirituality and
holiness, personal growth and corporate responsibility, sin, the cross
and forgiveness, redemption, resurrection, transformation," says
Here again confusion reigns.
Griswold deliberately fudges the line between the Corporal works of
mercy and the Spiritual works of mercy.
Social justice comes under the category of the first; to admonish
sinners, and to invoke the cross, forgiveness, redemption, etc., comes
under the second category. No one ever got converted believing in
social justice. This was one of the great myths of liberalism. Social
justice is the outworking of a redeemed life at best and the outpouring
of a culture that believed we should love our neighbor as ourselves
because God said we should (even if secularists tacitly deny it).
Mother Teresa's social activism grew directly out of her personal
relationship with Jesus, and was a direct consequence of it.
Griswold went on to say that the 20/20 Task Force charged by the
General Convention to envision a plan to increase membership and
participation in the Episcopal Church had completed its work and
"unleashed a vision of mission that both celebrates and names some of
the energies abroad in the church--and pushes the church to step
outside its institutional safety zones and open itself to the driving
motion of the Spirit in new ways in the service of God's project. God
is counting on us."
Really. Then why have Evangelicals been more or less excluded from this
Task Force and why has the "doctrine" of inclusion replaced the
doctrine of conversion. Why do we have no plan but plenty of "vision"
and what sort of plan does Ted Mollegen and his friends propose to make
churches grow without the call for conversion?
The truth is evangelical parishes and dioceses are already doing it and
the liberal and revisionist parishes wouldn't know how to do it,
because they don't believe it anyway. This is Frank's (and Ted's)
fiction. If you have no clear, specific, salvific message then
ultimately you have nothing to offer or sell, and everyone knows that
in the church, as in business, if you don't have a clearly defined
mission statement, then your strategy is useless and the results will
be less than sterling. Baptizing people holus bolus won't work either.
How many of these baptisms "take" anyway. Very few apparently.
Griswold wants to "name the energies abroad in the church." What
"energies" are these precisely? Are they Biblical "energies" of
repentance and faith, calling people to step away from destructive
lifestyles like homosexuality? Of course not. God forbid. Frank, the
energizer bunny of ECUSA's liberal and revisionist bishops won't hear
any talk about changed lifestyles. Ironically Scripture does not even
use the word "energy" that's Frank or Jung's word. It is not to be
found in Scripture.
It reminds one of the time Griswold asked the church "to send out good
thoughts into the universe" following revelations that he had prostate
cancer. One is tempted to ask what deity had he in mind who was waiting
out there poised, a cosmic vacuum cleaner in hand ready to scoop up
these "good thoughts" and blow them right back at Frank's prostate.
Whatever happened to "pray for me?"
The Rev. Hap Lewis of Florida, completing his term as president of the
National Episcopal Cursillo Committee, said he appreciated those
comments from the presiding bishop because he is convinced that
Cursillo is "a widely spread movement that is the best evangelistic
tool in the church."
Perhaps, but what about the Brotherhood of St. Andrew's that has a very
clear evangelistic ministry to men? Or ALPHA, which is probably the
foremost movement in England and fast becoming a force in the US for
evangelism and renewal.
Cursillo is a movement for those already committed to Christ and who
want to take their lives to a deeper spiritual place. A noble goal
indeed but it is not primarily evangelistic. It is more along the lines
In a sermon at the closing Eucharist, Griswold said he often feels
caught in the middle. "It would be unwise to jettison everything...to
stay grounded but welcome the Spirit." Griswold admitted that, like
James, he sometimes feels caught in the middle, asking, "Where is the
Spirit at work, when to go full blast forward, when to be cautious?"
And yet he is convinced that a "deep experience of being rooted and
grounded in Christ gives one the courage to ask what the Lord is up to
here...The grace of God is shaping and forming our consciousness so
that we act in union with Christ."
Perhaps, as a start, Griswold could "ground" himself solidly in
Scripture as God's Word written. Then he could and should openly
repudiate Spong's Twelve Theses, and then publicly pronounce that he
and his bishops will uphold both the spirit and the intent of the
Lambeth resolutions on human sexuality. It would be a good start. But
don't hold your breath. Or, perhaps by way of going "full blast," he
could tell the Bishop of Delaware to rescind his call allowing his
priests to perform rites for persons of the same sex in Episcopal
parishes and not invoke the wrath of Two-Thirds world bishops. Better
still discipline Jane Dixon for spending nearly a million dollars to
get rid of one orthodox parish priest, and tell her that her actions
are way off the reality charts. As a final act of penitence he should
inform the Bishop of Oklahoma that he allow the former Anglo-Catholic
Bishop of Eau Claire, William Wantland the right to perform priestly
functions in his diocese and to bag the transsexual deacon before the
whole church becomes a laughing stock.
The truth is, the language of Griswold is couched in vagueness and
deliberate ambiguity. Words like "openness," "vitality,"
"consciousness," "enthusiasms" and "energy" speak more of Jung than
Christ. At the end you don't really know what Griswold is saying. It's
like trying to grasp a vapor rising from a hot bath. It is all smoke
and mirrors, couched in "baptismal covenant" language and mystic
paganism that, at the end, leaves one gasping for theological air.
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